Option A Freshwater

Lesson Plans Option A Freshwater

These learning activities cover everything in the IB guide for this topic. Lesson plans include resources to use on an interactive whiteboard and worksheets to print. The pages have full student access to give maximum flexibility to the teacher and the student. There are theoretical notes for extended reading and teacher notes at the top that provide timing information lesson objectives and activity instructions.

1. Drainage Basin Hydrology and Geomorphology


The drainage basin as an open system with inputs (precipitation of varying type and intensity), outputs (evaporation and transpiration), flows (infiltration, throughflow, overland flow and base flow) and stores (including vegetation, soil, aquifers and the cryosphere)

Drainage Basins

This page introduces students to drainage basins, their characteristics and the physical processes and properties of the water budget. It develops a number of visual and interactive resources that help students to understand the scale of these processes. It introduces students through a starter animation on the Mississippi. There are then a series of quick drag and drop and match-up activities to process new vocabulary.

The Water Budget

This page looks deeper at the water budget. It uses the drainage basin features and models to focus students' attention on the components of the water balance. A starter activity is a quick card sort based on the hydrological cycle.. Then students should investigate the water balance for the River Teviot in England. Students can  then discuss the implications of freshwater storage for humans.


River discharge and its relationship to stream flow, channel characteristics and hydraulic radius

River processes of erosion, transportation and deposition and spatial and temporal factors influencing their operation, including channel characteristics and seasonality

The formation of typical river landforms, including waterfalls, floodplains, meanders, levees and deltas

Hydrology and Geomorphology

This page provides different resources and activities for 2-3 lessons focused on the central idea of how river shape the landscape. It develops the key processes of erosion, transportation and deposition and focuses on different landforms unique to upper, middle and lower course of the river. It features a number of lesson resources including starters and main activities, interactive resources and video clips and animations.

2. Flooding and Flood Mitigation


Hydrograph characteristics (lag time, peak discharge, base flow) and natural influences on hydrographs, including geology and seasonality

How urbanization, deforestation and channel modifications affect flood risk within a drainage basin, including its distribution, frequency and magnitude

Flooding and Hydrographs

This page provides resources and activities that lead students through the relationship between drainage basin processes and the potential for flooding. It includes visual and interactive resources, downloadable PDFs, drag and drop activities and video resources. The starter activity recaps the water budget with student completing a quick classification of inputs, storage, transfers and outputs.


Attempts at flood prediction, including changes in weather forecasting and uncertainty in climate modelling

Flood mitigation, including structural measures (dams, afforestation, channel modification and levee strengthening) and planning (personal insurance and flood preparation, and flood warning technology)

  • Two contrasting detailed examples of flood mitigation of drainage basins

Flood Mitigation

This page provides an array of resources that enable students to investigate the pros and cons of different floodplain management strategies, including both hard and soft engineering approaches. It is centered around students working within the site and completing an evaluation sheet. It uses examples from different place examples and adds in extra activities in addition to the evaluation.

3. Water Scarcity and Water Quality


Physical and economic water scarcity, and the factors that control these including the causes and impacts of droughts; the distinction between water quantity and water quality

Environmental consequences of agricultural activities on water quality, to include pollution (eutrophication) and irrigation (salinization)

  • Detailed examples to illustrate the role of different stakeholders

Growing human pressures on lakes and aquifers, including economic growth and population migration

Water Scarcity

This page provides a comprehensive introduction to water scarcity. It provides detailed worksheets, reading material and interactive activities on water scarcity. It begins with a map from memory activity on global patterns, leading to a comprehensive explanation of the causes of droughts. Students complete the lesson by exploring the social, economic and environmental impacts of drought

Environmental Consequences of Agriculture

This page provides a 4 page printable PDF that includes activities that run through the challenges of irrigation and agriculture for managing freshwater resources. It covers a starter activity on photo analysis and then develops a number of thinking skills activities based on diagrams showing physical processes. It explores both the causes and problems of salinization in Australia, eutrophication through agro-chemical run-off and recaps groundwater pollution in the Edwards Aquifer in Texas.


Internationally shared water resources as a source of conflict

  • Case study of one internationally shared water resource and the role of different stakeholders in attempting to find a resolution

Conflicts and Resolutions in the Mekong River Basin

This page provides provides resources for a detailed case study on potential conflicts for the International river basin of the Mekong. It begins with a creative flash starter and then explores the various country demands on the river through thinking skills activity, including card sorts, interactive maps news items and infographics. It leads students through the issues and conflicts and then develops an understanding of the resolutions through the Lansang-Mekong Cooperation

4. Water Management Futures


The importance of strengthening participation of local communities to improve water management in different economic development contexts, including sustainable water use and efficiency, and ensuring access to clean, safe and affordable water

Increased dam building for multipurpose water schemes, and their costs and benefits

  • Case study of contemporary dam building expansion in one major drainage basin

Water Management and Community Participation

This pages first introduces the subject of community participation through a discussion exercise. It then goes on to examine the role of  community participation through eight case profiles, based on the case studies made available by the Global Water Partnership. This is supported by an animation on the role of active citizens in water management and there is also extension reading material

The Lancang-Mekong Dam Cascade

This page takes an in-depth look at the costs and benefits of dam expansion in the Lancang-Mekong Basin. Building on the earlier case study of international conflict on the Mekong the page offers resources that enable students to understand the different viewpoints of stakeholders. There is series of excellent worksheets as well the possibility of a role play based debate/enquiry.


The growing importance of integrated drainage basin management (IDBM) plans, and the costs and benefits they bring

  • Case study of one recent IDBM plan

Growing pressures on major wetlands and efforts to protect them, such as the Ramsar Convention

  • Case study of the future possibilities for one wetland area

Integrated Drainage Basin Management in the Lower mekong Basin

This page introduces Integrated Drainage Basin Management. First students work through a number of resources including an animation to define and describe IDBM. Then students go on to research that continues the regional focus on the Mekong Basin. The enquiry question is 'Does the Lower Mekong Basin qualify as an example of IDBM'? This is done through the WWF 7 guiding principles of IDBM as well as 9 items resource back largely based on the Mekong Basin Development Strategy 2011-2016.

Freshwater Wetland Management

This page provides a short introduction to the role and function of wetland environments in terms of water and ecology storage. It also looks at them as a water resource and investigates how they can be managed. There is a detailed PDF worksheet for students to structure their notes. The starter activity is a simple video starter, which enables students to identify water resource functions. Students then complete a number of short activities including a gap fill exercise introducing key vocabulary. It then develops a case study through a student investigation into the future possibilities of the Kut Ting Wetland in Thailand. This completes the regional focus for the case studies within this section of the course on the Mekong Basin.

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